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Betsy DeVos Indicates Big Plans to “Reframe” Title IX

Yesterday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos addressed the public regarding a controversial and difficult issue – Title IX. In her statements, she announced the new administration will change the way colleges and universities handle incidents of sexual assault on campus.

Specifically, DeVos declared that “the era of ‘rule by letter’ is over,” referencing the Obama era set of guidelines laid out in a 2011 memorandum referred to as the “Dear Colleague Letter.”  She noted these rules enacted under the Obama administration created a failed system – a system failing both the reporting party (“accuser”) and the responding party (“accused”). 

DeVos notably discussed the lack of due process currently afforded to accused students throughout the Title IX process on college and university campuses.  She declared that although “one rape is one too many . . . one person denied due process is [also] one too many.”

Although DeVos did not announce specific changes to the Title IX guidelines issued under President Obama, she explained the Department of Education will “launch a transparent notice-and-comment process to incorporate the insights of all parties” in developing a better system.

One proposed idea DeVos discussed was the development of a “Regional Center model” to handle Title IX complaints.  As part of this model, participating schools could refer a Title IX incident that rises to the criminal level to the Regional Center.  The Regional Center then “cooperates with local law enforcement and has access to resources to collect and preserve forensic evidence, facilitate—but never require—criminal prosecutions, and apply fair investigative techniques to gather and evaluate all relevant evidence to determine whether sexual misconduct occurred.”  This model, DeVos noted, “allows educators to focus on what they do best: educate.”

This model, however, was only used as an example, and no formal changes to the Title IX guidelines were issued.  After DeVos’ statements, it is expected the Department of Education will issue formal changes soon.

© 2018 Dinsmore & Shohl LLP. All rights reserved.


About this Author

Mike Hawkins, labor, employment, appellate practice lawyer, Dinsmore law firm

Mike Hawkins is a partner in the Labor & Employment and Appellate Practice Groups. He has extensive experience in all aspects of labor, employment law and ERISA litigation and appellate practice. Mike has argued two cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and many in-state and Federal Courts of Appeals. He has been selected by Best Lawyers as a top Labor & Employment lawyer every year since 1989. Mike is an arbitrator and mediator on the AAA panel.

Kathleen Carnes, labor, employment, defense of employers, lawyer, Dinsmore Law
Of Counsel

Kathleen Carnes is an attorney at Dinsmore and Shohl. Her practice includes all aspects of labor and employment law in defense of employers. Kathleen specializes in advising employers regarding compliance with Title VII, the National Labor Relations Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and various other state and federal employment statutes and regulations. Prior to joining Dinsmore and Shohl, Kathleen worked as an attorney for the National Labor Relations Board, where she investigated and prosecuted unfair labor practices. She has also worked as the Director of Personnel for a large state agency/cabinet where she oversaw all aspects of human resources including internal and external investigations, compliance with harassment/discrimination policies as well as FMLA, ADA, FLSA, and in-training for supervisors and employees. Kathleen received her undergraduate degree from University of Louisville and her law degree from the University of Cincinnati where she was an executive member of the Moot Court Board. Kathleen practices in state and federal courts, as well as numerous agencies and commissions.

Elizabeth Stegeman, Dinsmore Law Firm, Labor and Employment Attorney

Elizabeth is a member of the Labor and Employment Department. She has effectively counseled and advocated for her clients on a wide variety of employment-related issues, including matters arising under Title IX, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, Title VII, and the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Prior to joining the firm, she clerked for the Honorable Robert Chambers in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia where she gained experience handling matters in a variety of legal fields. During...